Less is more. Surprise your audience with shorter statements! [Speak on the Shoulders of Giants]
Some of the greatest public speakers in history.
What do they have in common and how did their speeches leave a mark?
The POWER BRIEF.
This is one of the techniques stated in James C. Humes’ book, “Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln.”
The Power Brief is a speaking technique that replaces long speeches with short statements.
Have you ever witnessed a speech or presentation that was scheduled to go on for thirty minutes but was wrapped up in twenty minutes because all important points were already covered?
How did that make you feel?
Shocked? Surprised? Astonished?
An audience can typically hold their attention for 18 to 20 minutes. The shorter and more impactful the speech is, the greater the possibility of getting the audience’s interest.
Here are reasons why you shouldn’t make your speech or presentation too long:
Simpler and more concise is better. Through the years, designers in fashion and architecture have drawn inspiration from this concept to create simple yet elegant outputs.
This can also be applied in public speaking when you’re building the foundations of your speech.
American astronaut and nautical engineer, Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon in 1969. As he took his first step, he said:
“That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Armstrong mentioned that he did not prepare for the address he made to the world. Even if that was the case, this short speech made a mark in history and remains to be one of the most iconic.
It is difficult to make a point using just two to three words, but remember that in some cases, saying less can make more of an impact than saying too many things.
Brief statements are easy to remember. Think of the greatest speech delivered. Google it. You might come across the Gettysburg Address by former US President Abraham Lincoln in the search results. Did you know that his speech only lasted two minutes?
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” – Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863
This was delivered during the American Civil War at the official dedication ceremony for the National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Some named it as one of the greatest speeches in the world and the most famous speech Abraham Lincoln delivered.
Brief statements are memorable and at times, can say everything you want to say with just a few words.
Brevity is more practical than verbosity. Most speakers think that if they have twenty minutes to speak in a program, they are required to use all of it and sometimes, even go beyond the allotted time. If the audience expects 15 minutes for your speech, give them 10 to 12 instead.
Franklin Roosevelt’s fourth inaugural speech during the war in January 1945 lasted only three minutes. The message?
“Wartime was no time for long orations; we all better get back to work and finish the war.”
Inaugural speeches often take around 20 minutes. Leaders usually take this time to inform their people about their plans and intentions once they officially begin their term.
Roosevelt’s three-minute speech was both practical and powerful. It was World War II at the time and he knew there were more important things to do than fill up his twenty-minute allocation.
In this case, three minutes was all it took to make a huge impact on listeners.
Depending on the situation, a speaker can make a Power Point in a single sentence. Try to summarize your message in short statements.
Long messages are not necessarily always better. In meetings or briefings, a speaker doesn’t have to speak long with an abundance of content. Keep it short by polishing your message. Use a statement that summarizes the point you want to make and end it there.
As an example, General Eisenhower made a short statement the night before D day in 1944. The bad weather was about to endanger their safe landing the next morning. Eisenhower listened as his military staff one-by-one briefed him about the storm situation.
When they all finished, he only said three words:
“OK, let’s go!”
When used correctly and at the right time, short statements are brilliant, memorable, and powerful.
Whether you’re meeting with one person or speaking in front of hundreds of people, you can use these tips.
Apply the Power Brief to your next speech or presentation and leave your audience in awe.
Follow the footsteps of the best speakers in history!
About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Wednesdays: Speak on the Shoulders of Giants”
In a meeting with one person
…a boardroom with five people
…or a huge venue with hundreds of people
—whatever the situation or setting, it’s very important to learn and eventually master the art of public speaking.
No matter what, you always need to effectively get your message across.
What good is a presentation with awesome content if you don’t deliver it properly?
Every Wednesday, we publish different tips, insights, and secrets on how you can improve your presentation skills to captivate your audience and lead interesting discussions.
The need for great presentation skills applies EVERYWHERE.
(Small meetings with your team, big meetings with your boss, an important marketing pitch, speaking engagements for events with a big audience, etc.)
Learning these skills is not just for the corporate world. Being in other industries such as the Arts, Information Technology, Medicine, and Education while knowing how to present well will definitely give you an edge.
Have that advantage.
Hope you’ve found this week’s public speaking tip interesting and helpful.
Stay tuned for next Wednesday’s Speak on the Shoulders of Giants!
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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